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Faithful to the original design

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Read Proverbs 27:13-27

Solomon begins by talking about 4 different types of relationships. They go from the most estranged to the closest to relationships in general.

Let’s see what he says.

Take the garment of one who puts up security for a stranger;
hold it in pledge if it is done for an outsider.

If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning,
it will be taken as a curse.

A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping
of a leaky roof in a rainstorm;
restraining her is like restraining the wind

or grasping oil with the hand.

As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another.

Be cautious when dealing with strangers.

Be courteous with you neighbors. Kind words that wake up the neighborhood don’t put you in good standing with your neighbors.

Husband and wife know how to get on each other’s nerves. God wants this relationship to be harmonious. When it is quarrelsome, acrimonious, vitriolic, and just outright hateful; it seems there is no getting away from it.

Your neighbor will shut up after a while. The stranger will move along at some point, but husband and wife who are at odds have no refuge.

But despite our differences, unique personalities, and even some quirky behavior, wisdom tells us that we develop each other. As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

We would not grow much in patience, endurance, understanding, mercy, or forgiveness if everything went flawlessly all of the time. Our wisdom would not grow without some lessons learned and some of those lessons come from other people grinding away at us from time to time.

God uses everything for good for those who love him.

The stranger that we help with a meal but not a loan, the neighbor who mows his lawn at six in the morning, or the season of marital discord that we may have experienced are all just grist for God’s mill. He will use all of our experiences for good for we do love him and we are called according to his purpose.

The next quip of wisdom might be summed up in one word: loyalty.

The one who guards a fig tree will eat its fruit,
and whoever protects their master will be honored.

If you guard what your master values and if you protect your master that’s loyalty. When in turn he honors you or shares the fruit of your labors that is loyalty as well.

Where does loyalty stand in the taxonomy of virtues? All we can say is that Solomon counted loyalty among the qualities of the wise.

He goes on to say:

As water reflects the face,
so one’s life reflects the heart.

Today, we might say, “Actions speak louder than words.”

There are the things that we say are important. Then there are the things that we do. We do the things that are important to us.

The things that we do reflect what’s in our heart.

We might be the stingiest old coot in the town when it comes to spending money on fundraisers, but if we give generously to those in need and spend our time helping others, our actions have reflected a generous heart.

How we live, how we spend our money, how we spend our time, and how we deal with strangers, neighbors, and family is a reflection of what is in our heart.

What we say only has value if it matches what we do. It pleases God if these match what he is telling us to do. We might call this fidelity. We are faithful to the original design for our lives.

When you find a person whose words and deeds are in harmony, become their friend. They are hard to come by.

Death and Destruction are never satisfied,
and neither are human eyes.

We will always have temptation in our lives. Its pull on our heart will be stronger at some times than others, but it never goes away.

Paul tells us that we become a new creation in Christ Jesus, but that old creature keeps wanting his old gig back.

Sin and our sinful nature are going to hang around for the duration of this life, but just because they are there does not mean that they have dominion over us. The blood of Christ Jesus has set us free from sin and death, but until history is consummated, the representatives of evil will still be hanging around.

We must choose to keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus.

We have considered our true heart by what we actually do, but we might also know it by the things we praise.

If we sit on our hands during worship service but shout hallelujah when Kevin Durant hits a game-winning three, we must ask: Where is our heart?

Furnaces are used to purify and test fine metals. The things that we praise and worship and that we get excited about are a test for our hearts.

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
but people are tested by their praise.

Jesus said, where your treasure is, that’s where you heart really is. Solomon uses different analogies but he is challenging us to define what is important in our lives.

Is it what should be important?

You might remember that I once discussed my sermon sanity check. It was simple.

Include the good news in the message.

Connect the good news to the current situation.

Repeat critical items.

Solomon must be a fan of that last one—repeat critical items.

Though you grind a fool in a mortar,
grinding them like grain with a pestle,
you will not remove their folly from them.

Once again Solomon feels it appropriate to remind us that it is not in our power to change a fool. Those given to folly, foolishness, stupidity, simplemindedness, and other dispositions that reject God’s wisdom are not going to be changed by our best efforts.

Therefore the wisest use of our time with regards to foolish people is to teach our children to be wise and not allocate much time for that which cannot be changed.

If I were a student in a class taught by Solomon, my notes would read, “This is going to be on the test.”

Solomon wraps up this section with some wisdom that we might label, “Husbandry.”

Be sure you know the condition of your flocks,
give careful attention to your herds;
for riches do not endure forever,

and a crown is not secure for all generations.
When the hay is removed and new growth appears

and the grass from the hills is gathered in,
the lambs will provide you with clothing,

and the goats with the price of a field.
You will have plenty of goats’ milk to feed your family

and to nourish your female servants.

If you do the things that you are supposed to do, take care of what is entrusted to you, take nothing for granted, then you will get favorable results in most circumstances.

You might wonder why Solomon would mention having enough to take care of the diligent man’s family and his female servants or maidens.

Remember this was a time when a man might take several wives or a wife and many concubines or maidens that belonged to the master or his sons. A poor man could not afford more than one wife.

Solomon is saying that diligence and husbandry and attention to detail provide not only enough for your needs, but make you a man or family of some standing.

How can we wrap up this hodge-podge of wisdom?

Value your valued relationships.

Know yourself. What you do with your time, money, and resources will tell you what’s important in your life.

Don’t waste time trying to change someone dead-set on opposing God and God’s wisdom.

Take care of what is entrusted to you. Practice diligence and husbandry and you will prosper.

Amen.

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